My current work in progress, a historical fiction, centres around a bit of an enigma: Ann MacLeod MacLean McIntyre Cass.
History only records her as a Loyalist widow, mother, and refugee, and her origin is in shadow. But a story told by her descendants to my cousin may shed some light onto an unusual and incredible past.
According to the story, Ann’s mother was the daughter of a laird on the Isle of Skye. She grew up in a castle on a cliff. It didn’t take much sleuthing to figure out this castle was Dunvegan, and Ann’s noble grandfather was Norman MacLeod of MacLeod, aka “The Wicked Man”. Ann’s mother was, according to the story, headstrong. She slipped away from the castle and fell in love with a master shipwright named MacLean—a choice which denied her heritage forever.
Ann herself, however, found her way back to the castle and her grandparents’ hearts. They dressed and educated her as a lady, and taught her about her mother’s clan.
It was from this clan’s motto that I took the working title of the book: Hold Fast.
I can only imagine that her ancestors’ motto became a touchstone for her through her tumultuous story. Even from the beginning Ann was a child of two worlds, held in tension between her mother’s forsaken nobility and her father’s humble simplicity. Ann had to hold fast to her own identity in the midst of two competing influences.
With all that she later endured, it’s clear that this is exactly what she did. And at the end of it all, she was still telling her granddaughters: “remember who you are.”
That’s what I plan to do with Hold Fast. Remember who Ann was.
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